Early feedback so far for Windows 7 has been positive, seemingly closing a door on a great opportunity for the open source community to grab market share. But Red Hat says despite Vista being an unpopular enterprise operating system, it was not ready to make the expensive play to grab share in the enterprise desktop space.
Linux continues to grow in the server space, a market from which companies such as Red Hat make strong revenues. But has the Linux community failed to take advantage of a weakened competitor to push its operating system?
‘Linux has missed a bit a bit of an opportunity in regards to the [enterprise] desktop and consumer desktop. When a company that is leading the market is failing it gives an opportunity,’ said Franz Meyer, Vice President, South Europe, Middle East and Africa at Red Hat.
‘Red Hat has not failed on the desktop because we have not positioned ourselves as an alternative to Microsoft. That doesn’t mean [the enterprise desktop] isn’t a market that we’ll target in future. We are working on it. But we want to be successful where it makes sense. It takes a lot of money to really compete with the gorillas of the desktop market.’
And to really challenge a company like Microsoft in the desktop space, he added, companies such as Red Hat have to ensure they are seen as credible to the potential customer base.
Red Hat has seen some stronger than expected quarters this year, as companies look for ways to stretch their diminishing budgets. The downturn, said Mayer, has given Red Hat a foot in the door, as CIOs try to balance the need of delivering to the business, but doing so with less money. The answer has often been that they cut costs where it impacts least, which includes where the end user will notice.
One of the advantages afforded Microsoft – and to a lesser extent Apple – is that they are single entities developing and selling an operating system Linux comes in a number of flavours, leaving vendors battling not just the proprietary incumbents but also each other. But Meyer doesn’t believe the more fragmented marketing nature of Linux puts Red Hat at a big disadvantage.
‘The thing that is difficult is when you arrive into a market with very big companies that have big financial coverage and a lot of money to protect their market that is challenging. We are making less profit and margin, so it is a challenge to be successful. We believe because of this open source model we are creating good competition and more value add. The customer gets more for less,’ said Meyer.